Appleby Closing in on Three-Peat

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- A two-shot lead at the Mercedes Championships means nothing to Stuart Appleby. Neither do his victories at Kapalua the last two years.
 
Even after birdies on three of his last six holes for a 3-under 70, matching the best score on another punishing, wind-swept day on west Maui, all Appleby could talk about Saturday were the shots he left out on the Plantation course and how he would have to bring his game up a notch.
 
Stuart Appleby
Stuart Appleby had four birdies and only one bogey in the third round.
'I'll have to knuckle down,' Appleby said. 'There's some good players behind me, and I'll have to play good golf.'
 
No one was conceding the season-opening tournament to Appleby, although his name atop the leaderboard is daunting. The Aussie is quickly becoming the King of Kapalua, and he has a chance Sunday to become the first player in nearly 50 years to capture the winners-only event three straight times.
 
'Every part of his game is very sound, very sharp,' U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell said after a 71 left him two shots behind and in the final group again with Appleby. 'He's going to be tough to beat tomorrow. But I believe I've got the tools to beat him.'
 
Campbell saw Saturday what he is up against.
 
If the pictures of past champions in the locker room were not enough -- two side-by-side of Appleby in the winner's cream blazer with a lei around his neck -- his golf in such demanding conditions should be a reminder.
 
On a course where the average score is 74.8 over three days, Appleby has dropped only two shots over his last 34 holes and looked very much in control by posting a 6-under 213 through three rounds.
 
'Winning two years in a row, pretty much being in control of this tournament most of the way, he's the guy to beat,' said Jim Furyk, a past winner at Kapalua who shot 72 and was three shots behind.
 
Only a half-dozen players were under par, and only one Kapalua rookie was in that mix. Lucas Glover needed some magic getting there, with a hole-in-one on the 203-yard eighth hole -- for a 70 to finish at 217.
 
Vijay Singh (74) and Sergio Garcia (73) each birdied the last hole to get to 218.
 
'If you just miss it, you're going to hit it way worse than you think,' Singh said. 'It was a grind. Putts like 3 or 4 feet it's like, 'Please, hit a good, solid stroke.''
 
Scoring has always been low at Kapalua since the tournament moved here in 1999, with the highest winning score coming in 2000 when Tiger Woods beat Ernie Els in a playoff after they finished at 16 under.
 
This looks more like a U.S. Open -- on the scoreboard and inside the ropes.
 
Not even the crashing surf below can put these guys at ease, as they battle wind that makes it difficult to stand still and greens that are firm and fast, making it tough to get the ball close to the hole.
 
The average score was 75.04, the second-toughest behind Friday's average of 75.5.
 
'I don't think anybody was expecting this kind of a battle the first week of the year,' Mark Calcavecchia said. 'I certainly wasn't. I'm exhausted.'
 
Calcavecchia made a 15-foot putt on the 18th for only the second eagle of the tournament, giving him a 73 to finish seven shots out of the lead.
 
The other eagle was even better.
 
Glover, 4 over after his first four holes of the year and struggling at the start of every round, hit a 5-iron from 203 yards that bounced twice and probably would have run through the green if not for hitting the pin and dropping straight down into the cup.
 
It was the first ace in the eight-year history at Kapalua, and he won a Mercedes-Benz worth $83,375.
 
'I don't know what happened,' Glover said. 'I was just trying to get it up on that top level. That's a tough hole with that wind. It lined up pretty good, then it was just a matter of distance, whether a wind hit it right or not.'
 
It put the 26-year-old into contention, just four shots behind on a course where anything can happen. Even so, Glover and everyone else in range of Appleby will need some help.
 
Appleby made seven straight pars to hold his position, then gave himself some separation on two holes. Dead into the wind on No. 13, he managed to keep his 9-iron below the cup and holed a 12-footer for birdie, then hit another great pitch on the par-5 15th to 6 feet for birdie.
 
His two-putt from off the green at No. 18 gave him his third straight round under par.
 
The bigger story was the guys who struggle to break 80. Jason Gore, the feel-good story of 2005 with his collapse at the U.S. Open and quick turnaround to earn a promotion to the PGA Tour, doesn't feel so great this week. He shot 81, leaving him at 22 over and still searching for his first round in the 70s.
 
Gore is among seven players who are double digits over par.
 
But it also shows who's on top of their games, with three major champions among those under par, and the two-time defending champion at the top.
 
The only other player to win the Tournament of Champions three straight times was Gene Littler in 1955-57 when it was played at Desert Inn at Las Vegas. The last player to win the same tournament three straight years was Tiger Woods at the Bay Hill Invitational (2000-04). Others who have done that include Tom Watson and Johnny Miller.
 
'That's a great list to be on,' Appleby said. 'I hope I'm not thinking about that tomorrow, just playing my game, and knowing my best is enough to be a three-peater.'
 
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.